Monday, February 23, 2015

Standby Pasta Salad

I make this pasta salad a lot in the summer time because the produce is fresh and we eat a lot of meals in which a pasta salad goes great with them.

My cousin turned me onto the Suddenly Salad and the bacon ranch one in particular.  We fell in love.  However, I just had to add stuff to it.  I once added tomatoes from my garden.  It was heaven for the first couple of bites, but then it became a bit watery and pink. My solution - don't add too much tomato. At least my girls loved the pink color of the salad.

Then, one day I didn't have my trusty box of Suddenly Salad but I really wanted some, so I made my own from scratch.

I'm not a fan of the bottled ranch you buy on the shelves so I have a big bottle of dry Hidden Valley Ranch mix in my cupboard.  I prefer that to the pre-made ranch and we use the dry mix for stuff other than just salad dressing. But, if you like the bottled ranch, by all means, use it. It makes the recipe that much easier. Though mixing up your own ranch is pretty simple.

I really like this recipe because it's so very versatile.  When making this I rarely measure anything, so I won't be giving you exact amounts either. Give in to your imagination. This one is pretty hard to mess up.

Ranch Dressing (either bottled ranch or home made.)

Pasta (I've used several different kinds. This picture shows macaroni.)

Bacon bits (I've used bacon I've cooked as well as bits I've bought in the store, but it is always REAL bacon. None of that dried up bacon flavored stuff. I don't even know what that stuff is.)

Various vegetables (the Suddenly Salad version has carrot strips and peas)

Meat (I sometimes add tiny shrimp, chicken, ham. The salad is just as good without meat.)

Cook your pasta to your tastes.  I like mine softish, but not mushy.  The amount depends on how much salad you want in the end.  Drain and cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

While my pasta is cooking I make my ranch dressing and add the bacon bits.

Dice your vegetables. In this picture I've added cucumbers, celery, red and yellow bell peppers.  I've added tomatoes before and zucchini might be a great addition. Actually, I can't think of much that you couldn't add to this recipe. I often add in diced, cooked chicken and tiny shrimp you can find in a can in the grocery store.  This picture has chicken but no shrimp.  I've made this recipe with diced ham as well. All of these ingredients are very good in the salad.  We've actually made this salad the main dish of a meal before. (Yes, I can be super lazy and we sometimes eat weird stuff for dinner.)

When your pasta is cooled and drained all you need to do is add it and your veggies and/or meat to the ranch dressing. Coat everything well with the ranch and it's done.  So easy and very tasty.

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